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Check Your DM: The Podcast Demystifying Online Dating And Sex Culture with Ghanaian Artists

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Written by Joewackle J. Kusi 

2020 to most young adults will go down as one of the most historic years in history. Never has the need to protect ourselves been strongly dependent on whether our co-workers whose name we do not know wash their hand with soap under running water regularly, or the waiter at our favorite restaurants sanitize their hands, or the uber driver wears a facemask. How do you observe some social distance in public transport? While some combed the ends of the internet for answers, others did the same for content to keep them sane. And Check Your DM did more than that for the latter. 

svg%3EThough online is one of the commonest ways people are meeting people and hooking up, it’s difficult for people to admit they met their boyfriends, girlfriends, or even spouses online. Wondering if you should give online dating a try? Give the CYDM podcast a listen first. CYDM podcast gets your attention right from the trailer when TV and radio presenter, host Helen Appiah-Ampofo (Helen) colorfully describes our social interactions as; “we’re all involved in one big virtual orgy.” The next voice we hear is writer and activist Fui-Can Tamakloe (Tony) mentioning some of the most used apps where people are texting, sexting, and hooking up. 

Let’s get this out of the way; Helen’s voice is one that makes everything she says sound so interesting even if she’s bullshitting, or telling you about her worst date experience. Even though Tony at the beginning of almost every episode reminds listeners that this podcast is rated ‘W’ for “Wear your goddamn headphones when listening to us in public”, I have played the podcast through speakers, and the first thing that gets everyone’s attention is Helen’s voice, and then, how great of a production the podcast is. The soothing theme song in the back fading in and out, breaking down the show into almost visible segments. The featured stories are well scripted, narrated by other artists [ Cina Soul, Kirani Ayat, KiDi, EL ],  and scored to recreate the entire experience. This is one of the few podcasts that do not make your eardrums bleed.

svg%3EWhat started off as an account of how everyday people are navigating the complexities of online dating and sex culture in this social age, transformed to become the safe space where some Ghanaian celebrities have barred it all. If there’s one thing CYDM gets right, it is in the way it has humanized celebrity guests in a way that allows them to connect with their audience on a more relatable level outside of what they are known for. “And our discussions of taboo topics in a fun, non-judgmental manner allows for people to feel comfortable about their different appetites and sexualities.” – Tony adds. 

The season begins with A.I talking about finding love the old school way which is the direct opposite of Tony’s experience. And then it escalates to A.I recounting how he lost his virginity, which again is directly opposite of Tony’s experience which he narrates devoid of euphemism. By the end of the episode, unlike most shows, the guest was interviewing the hosts through a series of pseudo-therapy. This season has seen Ria Boss talk about sex work, her adventures on dating apps, ending up in a trap house, and being robbed and blocked. It’s feminism, bad sex and walk of shame when Worlasi joins the hosts in the studio. At the end of this episode, everyone but  Maayaa agrees sexual tension could take time, sleeping with work colleagues and a trip down memory lane to all the cool safe sex ads we grew on. Gasmilla, Ko-jo Cue, KiDi, EL and Joey B’s episodes explore more interesting themes and varying topics from music, politics, sending nudes, god, shitty, heartbreaks, fatherhood, LGBTQ+ ally, BDSM, and even more expansive discussions. “I love the balance between relationship/sex issues and actual social change issues. Like on my episode, we ended up discussing deeper issues than we set out to. That balance between fun and serious is crucial. It’s necessary for life itself. I agreed to be on it because Helen & Afadjato are two of my favorite characters on twitter so I knew it was going to be a fun ride. Also, it was a good break from the usual boring Ghana interview style.” – Ko-jo Cue. 

svg%3EIf it’s not doing that already, CYDM podcast seeks to normalize conversations about sex and sexuality while demystifying the cultural myths around them. It passes as a show promoting safe sex without trying. “It’s been truly eye-opening having artists openly talk about themes and subjects they wouldn’t normally talk about. It’s amazing to know that we’ve created a safe space for everyone to fully express themselves. Not to brag but the CYDM studios have become a therapeutic hub of sorts! From struggles with jealousy to talking about what happens behind closed doors, we’ve created an atmosphere that breeds honesty and acceptance and I love being a part of that” – Helen. 

svg%3EThe chemistry and friendly banter between guests, and guests and hosts make listeners feel very much present in the moment, and in the studio with them. Each episode’s interview is built around the themes from the scripted real stories produced as a mini audio drama; CYDM Tales. The tale is directly followed by guests sharing some safe sex, and online dating tips with anyone who intends to hook up with someone they meet online. They have made the mistakes so you don’t have to make them, while encouraging listeners to slide and slip in some DMs because that’s the only way we get stories for the Check Your DM Tales. Ria Boss did warn listeners to hide all gadgets if they’re having someone over, and goes on to share an experience when a guy she hooked up with stole her iPhone. 

CYDM brings guests out of their shells, and willing to share more than they would on any show. As hosts, it’s been a fun experience for them, and sometimes cathartic for guests. “There’ve been a few times when artists find out that CYDM podcast is really a ‘no holds barred’ space and it excites them. I think a lot of our celebrities live inside shells because there’s so much expected of them by society, and I think our podcast is one space where they get to be themselves and talk about things they like.”- Tony. 

svg%3EOne thing CYDM gets right is how it is able to be raw, scrappy, entertaining, educating and a roller-coaster of what-the-fvck moments all at the same time without apology. The combination of  Helen’s anecdotes and Tony’s unbridled wits, and experience always get both guests and listeners attention where nothing else seems to matter until the theme song produced by Kuvie starts fading their voices out to bring the podcast to a close. But that’s after Helen and Tony sign out “thank you so much for fucking with us on Check Your DM.”

Check Your DM is created, produced and directed by Joewackle J. Kusi. Did I already mention you could watch CYDM on YouTubeListen to season 1 here.


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